I am on a covert and possibly lethal mission in Kew. I have made my way to Kew successfully, and exited the tube station as unobtrusively as possible. I smile politely at the builders, eating their sandwiches in the sun. I look around furtively for a cashpoint. There are two greeting card boutiques, a pet store and a gift shop. There is no cashpoint.
I wonder what I am meant to do. It occurs to me that Kew has possibly abandoned the usual British financial systems and is relying instead on the exchange of absurdly ornate handcrafted goods in an elaborate barter arrangement. I am worried, because all I have with me is a much-treasured Nike compression shirt, and my debit card.
I wander slowly back and forth in front of the resting builders. I whistle, to let them know that nothing out of the ordinary is occurring. (I cannot whistle, so I simply purse my lips and act as if sound is issuing from them. It fools almost everyone).
In a flash of genius (which, I might add, took its own sweet time in arriving), I realise that there are two exits to Kew Gardens tube station. Waiting patiently at the other exit is my cashpoint. Glancing around me, I withdraw some cash. (I have stopped pretending to whistle by this point. It is too hard to concentrate on everything).
Girding my loins, I saunter off to my destination. 159 something, I mutter to myself. It is imperative that I do not focus on the menacing TW10 of the postcode. ‘You still have mobile reception,’ I whisper reassuringly. ‘And it’s still on the district line.’
I am meeting a friend of a friend to get what in my opinion is the nicest snood I have ever seen.
(It’s a totally legal snood*, sold by the nice people at Kew 159, but I’m getting it “from source” so it feels terribly naughty and daring. Also, I am in Kew).
I get to 159. It is a private home. I do not let this bother me in the slightest. I ring the bell. I wait. Jokingly, I try the front door handle. The front door opens.
I begin to panic. ‘Hello,’ I call into the house. ‘Um, I’m here about a snood?’ No-one will believe me, I realise, as I admire this family’s extensive trainer and hiking shoe collection. I’m going to go to prison for a snood. I can only imagine the psychological torture visited upon prisoners in the suburbs. I have watched ‘Desperate Housewives’.
I will not survive.
I leave the house as quietly as possible. In an effort to calm down, I walk down the road. I see a large sign: Kew 159. I follow it to a large office building. It occurs to me that I might possibly have been at the wrong place before. I meet my friend’s friend (who is lovely) and she gives my the snood. I wait til I am a suitable distance from the road before I begin my run home. (Which was planned, but given the circumstances I fear might hint at guilt). I get home, and lovingly unwrap my snood. ‘One day,’ I whisper to it. ‘I will tell you how you came to be here, and the adventures I went on to get you.’ I realise how foolish I was to worry about going to prison. I would certainly have been let of on grounds of reduced mental capacity.